Tucked away on the ground floor of the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, Pachaylen feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A lot of effort has gone into creating an exotic oasis, from the atmospheric low lighting to the décor and music. In fact, a hostess sits near the entrance playing the khim, a traditional Thai stringed instrument, which sets a deeply relaxing tone, and the intimate atmosphere makes this a perfect choice for date night.
As you’d expect from a Thai brand as renowned as Anantara, the signature restaurant is all about creating authentic food and flavours that truly represent the Southeast Asian country. Even before we have ordered, we are treated to a Thai-style amuse- bouche, also known as miang kham. The server brings over a box filled with colourful ingredients, and shows us how to fold piper leaves into pouches before spooning in the tasty fillings, which include dried shrimp, peanuts, lime, coconut, chillies and a sweet, sticky sauce. We eat it all in one bite and it’s a riot of flavours, with just a hint of spice.
From the Chef
“Pachaylen is an elegant and intimate setting where you can savour the authentic tastes of Thailand. We serve up flavourful curries and spicy salads in a regal atmosphere that evokes the grace of the eastern kingdom. From our open kitchen, the chefs enjoy interacting with our guests to recommend dishes that will delight your palate. My favourite is the aromatic lamb massaman curry with sweet potato and shallots because the tender meat melts in the mouth and the combination of sweet, sour and spicy highlights the complex flavours of Thai cuisine.”
Demi chef de partie, Saranya Tolongmat
After that, the starters set the bar high for the evening. We begin with the tood man poo kha onn, pan-fried crab cakes with a sweet chilli sauce and cucumber relish. The quality of the raw ingredients is clear; the texture of the meat is smooth with none of the bready fillers you get from lesser quality crab cakes, and the flavours are well balanced, with a nice crisp bite. The satay kai, grilled marinated chicken skewers served with a peanut dipping sauce, are not quite as addictive as the crab cakes, but they are a delicious interpretation of an authentic dish and the slightly chunky, just-spicy-enough dip gives it added depth. The chor muang, flower-shaped steamed chicken dumplings, are a deliciously light option.
No Thai meal would be complete without sampling the soups and Pachaylen does not disappoint, with two very different but equally delicious broths. The tom yum kung is a winning dish, a hot and sour soup that showcases the strong, diverse flavours of Thai cuisine. This one had a healthy kick of spiciness, with juicy prawns, mushrooms, coriander, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and tasted light and nourishing. The tom kha gai – chicken soup with mushrooms, galangal, lemongrass and chilli oil – had a similar flavour but felt more indulgent, thanks to the addition of coconut cream. This would be our recommendation for diners who are less familiar with Thai flavours and want a somewhat milder dish.
Throughout the meal, the service is attentive yet unobtrusive. At one point, the chef even joins us momentarily to offer his own recommendations based on our palates and preferred level of spice. Pachaylen’s open kitchen is a nice touch, too, as you can see the kitchen team hard at work on your meal.
The dish that the chef recommends without hesitation is the gaeng massaman lamb. Massaman curry traditionally tends to have a milder, sweeter flavour than other Thai curries, with a sauce that typically includes tamarind, sugar, peanuts, potatoes and lashings of coconut milk. Pachaylen’s version uses impeccably slow cooked lamb shank, swapping in sweet potatoes for more depth of flavours (and health perks), along with shallots and cashew nuts. It’s a decadent main course, with the meat sliding effortlessly off the bone. For something lighter, try the neua phas naam man hoi, a generous portion of stir-fried prime beef tenderloin, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy and oyster sauce. The beef shines through, and the light cooking keeps it tender and full of flavour, while the mildness of the veggies tempers the heavy kick of pepper in the seasoning.
Traditionally, dessert doesn’t figure that highly in Thai cuisine, but Pachaylen’s menu does offer a few sweet treats, if you still have room. We recommend going for the classic, authentic khao niao ma muang, a Chiang Rai coconut sticky rice pudding with sweet Thai mango. The base of this dish is gelatinous rice cooked in sweet coconut milk, served with Thai mango. The fresh flavours of the tropical fruit pair well with the creaminess of the sticky rice, and it somehow manages to feel both light and indulgent, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds to add some crunch. For something a little less rich, you could also try the pon la mai ruam mit, a platter of exotic fruits with mango sorbet. As with all of Pachaylen’s dishes, it uses distinct flavours and simple ingredients to transport you to another world.
For bookings or more information 02 6561000